Thursday, May 7, 2015

Being Considerate on Mother's Day

Mother's Day evokes a lot of strong emotions for a lot of women. Some emotions are positive, like the warm fuzzies I get when I think of my mom, grandma, & mother-in-law. They have served, guided, and encouraged me throughout my life and have set a good example of sacrificial love. Other emotions are painted blue, especially if you are remembering a mother who has died. Some women feel emotional pain, as they are unable to bear children or had a baby who died. There is a wonderfully heartfelt and loving open letter written by a non-mother to pastors about the painful side of Mother's Day for many women.

Recently, when I had a survey online asking about my Mother's Day habits, I actually felt dread when I realized that this holiday was quickly approaching once more.

I dread Mother's Day because my go-to site for dating your spouse switches from practical ideas to date your spouse to almost all Mother's-Day-themed for an entire month.

I dread Mother's Day because I know for the 5th year in a row, I will be left sitting in the pews at my church, while I count just how many women in the church are NOT mothers and how many are married but still childless. One year, all but three women in the church were lined up in front of the church & of the three of us remaining, two were married but childless.

I dread Mother's Day because I know that in the joy of first & second years of motherhood & Mother's Day celebration, my facebook will be flooded with reminders of what I lack...I mean, pictures of Mother's Day presents & celebrations. Don't get me wrong, I celebrate those special years with my friends. I especially celebrate my friend who got pregnant after 13 years of marriage & my friend who was told she couldn't have kids, but she is a proud mama. But when I see those pictures, even while I am happy for my friends, I am reminded that I have been married for over 4 years & still do not have children. I am reminded how I must smile as I tell yet another person that my husband & I don't have kids. I am reminded of how I am on the outside of the elite club of motherhood.

I dread Mother's Day because I feel left out and like my value is somehow lessened because I have not given birth or adopted a child. There is no wife's day that is celebrated. In the US, there is little recognition of the International Women's Day (March 8th) like in many other countries around the world. As I work through why I dread Mother's Day, I realize that the unspoken message that I am getting from the church is that I am somehow worth-less than mothers, that I am somehow incomplete & not fulfilling my purpose if I am not a mother. I feel like my contributions to my household & family are not acknowledged or recognized because no pint-sized person is the recipient. Society doesn't send this message; the church does. Society just capitalizes on yet another money-making holiday. But the church elevates, praises, & reveres mothers so much, while childless wives and single women are left on the outside (unless they are told that they can to get in on the celebration by giving birth or adopting kids).

I made a basic Venn Diagram that maps some (but not all) of the tasks of 'just' a wife and 'just' a mother, and what are the shared/overlapped tasks. As 'just' a wife, I still do many of things that mothers get praised for, but there is no public praise or pat on the back for working at home without kids. Even though I cook, clean, laundry, and keep house for my husband, it does not get recognized with a special day because I am 'just' a wife and not a wife AND mother.

I don't mean to be a downer in this blog post, but imagine with me the pain of a woman who...
-cannot physically have children
-who lost a child through miscarriage
-who lost a child through an accident
-still serves her family, even if her family is just two people

So this Mother's Day, as you celebrate being a mother (or expressing gratitude to your own mothers or mother-figures), I encourage you to reach out to non-mothers. Tell them why you value them. Notice what they do for their husbands, if they are married. Tell them 

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